SINGAPORE, Nov. 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — At the annual Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) 2023, Lion TCR, a clinical-stage mRNA-based T cell immunotherapy company, is thrilled to announce a significant milestone of clinching the T-Up Excellence Awards. This award, in recognition of remarkable contributions to the growth and innovation within Lion TCR and the broader Singapore biotech sector, have been also presented to Dr. Wai Lu-En, Lion TCR’s Senior Director of Research and Development, and Dr. Sarene Koh, Director of Technology and Manufacturing. The Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-Up) program is part of A*STAR’s Growing Enterprises through Technology Upgrade (GET-Up) initiative.
(From Left to Right): Dr Chew Wee; Mr Alan Lai; Dr Marcin Debowski; Chief Executive, A*STAR Mr Frederick Chew; Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Gan Kim Yong; Dr Leong Yew Wei; Chairman, Enterprise Singapore Mr Peter Ong; CEO, Lion TCR Dr Peng Xiaoming; Dr Sarene Koh; Dr Wai Lu-En; Professor Hang Chang Chieh;
The T-Up program, launched in 2003 by A*STAR, is dedicated to supporting local companies in enhancing their business competitiveness by facilitating technology upgrading. Eligible (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) SMEs can apply for up to 70% grant from Enterprise Singapore to offset qualifying cost.
Dr. Peng Xiaoming, CEO of Lion TCR, expressed his gratitude for the T-Up program, as well as to Dr. Wai Lu-en and Dr. Sarene Koh for their outstanding contributions. Both Dr. Wai and Dr. Koh, distinguished A*STAR scholarship recipients, have earned their doctorates from prestigious institutions – Dr. Wai from Stanford University in the United States and Dr. Koh from Karolinska University in Sweden. Dr Peng also described the program as a catalyst for Lion TCR’s progress. "A*STAR’s T-Up program has been instrumental in enhancing Lion TCR’s capabilities and accelerating our journey towards groundbreaking mRNA-based T-cell immunotherapy," said Dr. Peng. "The exceptional contributions of A*STAR’s talents have not only elevated Lion TCR but also strengthened Singapore’s position as a hub for biotech innovation. Their efforts have significantly accelerated technical innovation, research and development, and have led to the creation of innovative products and intellectual property. Additionally, their guidance has fuelled remarkable business growth, enhanced operational efficiency, and contributed to Lion TCR’s global expansion."
In October this year, Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their groundbreaking work that laid the foundation for the rapid development of mRNA-based vaccines, including those by Moderna Inc. and the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE partnership. One of the revolutionary applications of mRNA technology is to utilise mRNA for work in anticancer treatment, still a major unmet medical need worldwide. At Lion TCR, we harness mRNA to encode T cell receptors for cutting-edge cell therapy for HBV-related liver cancer. Our HBV specific TCR T cell therapy has shown early promise as a safe yet effective therapy. What’s even more fascinating is the potential of mRNA technology to pave the way for ‘off-the-shelf’ immunotherapies. This visionary approach allows for TCR T cell generation in situ, unlocking possibilities for more accessible and personalized treatments. This transformative work is made possible by the exceptional talents from the T-Up program, such as Dr. Wai Lu-En and Dr. Sarene Koh, who have played a crucial role in advancing Lion TCR’s capabilities and contributing to the growth and innovation in the field of mRNA-based T cell immunotherapy. Their expertise and dedication have been instrumental in accelerating our journey towards groundbreaking cancer therapies.
The T-Up Excellence Awards celebrate the invaluable role played by the talent trained by A*STAR in fostering innovation and growth within Singaporean enterprises, and Lion TCR is honoured to be at the forefront of this recognition. The company looks forward to continuing its transformative work in the biotech industry, advancing mRNA-based T cell immunotherapy for the betterment of society.
Finally, we are excited to share that we have previously co-published an article with A*STAR. This publication sheds light on the formula behind Lion TCR’s life-changing cancer therapy. For more details, you can read the publication here.
About Lion TCR
Lion TCR, a clinical stage biotech spun off from Singapore’s A*STAR, specializes in engineered T Cell Receptor (TCR) T cell therapies for infectious diseases and associated cancers, particularly HBV-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Lion TCR have secured FDA IND approval for a Phase 1b/2 trial — the world’s first FDA-approved international multi-center trial for its HBV TCR-T therapy (LioCyx-M004) against HCC. Additionally, LioCyx-M004 has received dual Fast Track and Orphan Drug Designations from the FDA. Lion TCR’s groundbreaking approach involves utilizing mRNA to encode HBV-specific TCR in patients’ T cells, enabling the targeting of HBV epitopes expressed in liver cancer cells. Positive clinical trial outcomes attest to its efficacy. Building on their mRNA technology and AI-enabled TCR discovery platforms, Lion TCR extends its focus to solid tumors, offering personalized cell therapy and ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions. This positions Lion TCR to develop a robust pipeline for diverse solid cancers and chronic viral diseases. As part of its internationalization efforts, Lion TCR has further extended its presence to Guangzhou, establishing its Chinese headquarters in the Guangzhou Knowledge City. This China headquarters serves as a multifaceted hub, seamlessly integrating research and development, clinical operations, and GMP production. The primary objective of this expansion is to expedite the introduction of innovative products into the thriving Chinese market.
A*STAR, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, is Singapore’s pioneering organization driving mission-oriented research to advance scientific discovery, technological innovation, and economic growth. With a focus on nurturing talent and fostering collaborative partnerships, ASTAR bridges academia and industry, delivering impactful outcomes and contributing to societal benefits. A*STAR’s vision is to be a global leader in science, technology, and open innovation, enabling significant research initiatives that benefit both the economy and society.
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